by Mimi Lindell, MAN, BSN, RN, HNB-BC, CHTP
Now that we are heading into summer, many of us are planning time off. Vacations are a great opportunity to relax, spend time with loved ones and see new sights. We usually assume that these experiences will be enjoyable and relaxing. But how many of us have taken a vacation and ended up feeling more stressed and exhausted than refreshed and renewed?
So what gets in the way of a stress-free vacation? Sometimes it’s the financial cost, the hassles of travel, or our inability to leave work at work. Sometimes it’s unrealistic expectations or doing things out of obligation, rather than pleasure. Sometimes it’s a lack of planning, or too much planning. We may abandon our diet and exercise routines, ignore our need for sleep, and come back to work exhausted.
With a little mindful planning and self-care, you can make the most of your time off, enjoy yourself, and reduce the risk of added stress, disappointment or frustration.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t overschedule your time. Try to balance activities with free time, and allow yourself a good night’s sleep.
- To reduce food costs, and eat healthier, make your own simple breakfasts and lunches, especially if you have a fridge or microwave available. In the evening you can splurge with a nice dinner out.
- For car travel:
– be familiar with a few different routes
– have maps or GPS handy
– get your car tuned up before the trip
– bring water and healthy snacks along
– take plenty of stretch breaks.
- For plane travel:
– arrive at the airport early
– dress comfortably
– pack light
– know the current security requirements for baggage restrictions
– pack your required medications in your carry-on bag
– don’t forget the sunscreen.
- For a staycation:
– be intentional about taking this time to be off
– unplug from work and don’t get caught up in the usual routine household chores
– do things you enjoy that you don’t normally have time for ― seek out fun activities in your own community, explore local parks and museums, plan a family movie night, go on a picnic, or take a day trip to explore nearby towns or natural attractions.
Taking a vacation doesn’t have to be stressful and complicated. Keep in mind these helpful suggestions, get in touch with what is truly meaningful for you about this opportunity for relaxation and renewal, and really give yourself a break.